By Judy Christie
Many writers start terrific stories by asking a simple question: What if?
“What if?” leads novelists down the merry story path, scene after scene, chapter after chapter. Those words ignite fiction magic.
Anything can happen.
As you assess your writing for the year ahead, “what if” can also bear fruit in a practical career way. That question can identify crucial actions to move your writing forward.
With those simple words, the writing path might unwind with more satisfaction and less grumbling.
Make a list of writing habits that are likely to produce your best work in the year ahead. Identify where you want to be this time next year and the steps that lead in that direction.
While parts of the writing life will be out of your control, many are as close as your calendar and your computer – how you use your time and energy. Just like engaging novels, these strategies vary from writer to writer, but they also bear striking similarities.
** What if you make a fresh list of story ideas? While you’re at it, prioritize that list according to how engaged and excited you are by a premise. Perhaps you’ll come up with an electric idea that grabs readers the way it grabs you.
** What if you ask a trusted person for insight and feedback? Writers, editors and agents are generous with help and encouragement. I benefit immensely from friends and colleagues who take time to coach and advise. I could fill a dozen pages with the names of people who take time to answer questions or have a cup of coffee and toss ideas around at a conference.
** What if you stay focused each week on your key writing project? That sounds simple but can be hard. The seduction of electronic distractions and a tendency to over-schedule can draw you off track. However, by managing distractions, you can hold onto more power in your writing life.
** What if you track where your time goes? This is a sure-thing in my writing productivity. When I keep up with hours spent putting words on paper and the number of words created, I am significantly more effective. When I drift, my writing suffers.
** What if you identify what gives you energy as a writer? Seek those influences at every turn. While you’re at it, figure out what drains your energy and look for ways to avoid these situations.
**What if the fulfillment of your writing life in the next twelve months surpasses your wildest hopes and prayers? Figure out what that might look like, savor the moment and get back to your stories. Happy writing!
Do you anticipate a happy ending to your writing year ahead? What strategies might help you move forward? I’d love to hear your comments.
Judy Christie writes fiction with a Louisiana flavor and loves beignets and biscuits, primitive antiques and wondering “what if?” Her seventh novel, Sweet Olive, was released by Zondervan in 2013, and Magnolia Market will be out in Fall 2014. She blogs from her green couch at www.judychristie.com and loves to visit at www.facebook.com/judychristie and www.Twitter.com/judypchristie.
What an awesome and inspiring list! Makes me want to get started now 🙂 Thanks for the uplifting post.
Judy, Great questions, and some I’ve been asking myself the past few days. Many writers, myself included, tend to always imagine the worst possible scenario for their future. Thanks for suggesting that we–starting with me–imagine the outcome is better than we could have imagined.
Sort of like golf, where you picture the perfect shot as you get ready to hit it. It doesn’t always happen, but that’s the best way to prepare.
Thanks for sharing.
I’ve done a couple of these this month, and I’m already enjoying the benefits!
Hi Judy! This post was so encouraging to me. Reading the ACFW blog has sort of become part of my morning devotions. I love being a part of this community and am so excited to attend my first ACFW conference in September (I hope!).
This year has taken a huge turn for me. I entered First Impressions and ended up winning, which is a huge honor. I still can’t believe it actually happened and I am so thankful to my King for moving me in the right direction.
This year my major goals are to enter Genesis, grow my online platform, and find an agent. A publishing contract would be an awesome addition, but for now I am just trying to take baby steps. My husband has started to “get” that writing isn’t just a hobby for me and has begun to help more with our girls by taking them out of the house for small periods of time each week.
I really believe this is going to be a big year of growth and learning for me and pray God keeps my focus ever on Him.
Thanks for taking time to encourage other writers!
“Happily ever after is never far away”
This is excellent. Thank you so much for these What Ifs!! Great post!
Thank you so much for your comments. So happy to hear that some are already trying this approach. I need to remind myself regularly, Doc, to expect it to go well! Have a great week, all!